The state of Oklahoma has sued President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for their vaccine mandate on the state's National Guard on Thursday.
The lawsuit was filed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Attorney General John O'Connor, both Republicans. It requests relief against the vaccine mandate it deems unconstitutional and asks to enjoin the federal government from enforcing the mandate against the state's National Guard forces.
The suit also asks to keep the federal government from withholding funding from the Oklahoma National Guard or its members.
"Biden's vaccine mandates are a clear abuse of power," O'Connor wrote in a statement announcing the legal action. "He does not have the authority to make healthcare decisions for Oklahomans.
"It is sinister that Biden is threatening Oklahomans with the loss of their jobs if they do not surrender their personal rights and freedoms to the federal government. The president is using private employers to do his dirty work."
O'Connor and 20 other state attorneys general wrote Biden last week to challenge his administration's vaccination requirement for federal contractors put in place in August.
"How can they pay their mortgages and car payments?" O'Connor's statement continued. "Then, months from now Biden and the democratic Congress will dole out trillions of dollars to support the people Biden drove out of the workforce.
"Who is going to pay for this?"
The deadline for Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members was Thursday, while the Army set a June 30 deadline for its reserve and guard members, according to The Hill.
"We appreciate the support from our State's Senate and the House," O'Connor's statement concluded. "With their support, we can stand up for the rights of Oklahomans and defend the rule of law against federal overreach."
Oklahoma has already written to Austin at the Pentagon to exempt the Oklahoma National Guard from the mandate, and Stitt appointed Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino as the new commander, who wrote a memo to his members that no one will be required to be vaccinated.
Title 32 of the U.S. Code likely will have to be litigated in court to determine whether the state or the federal government holds sway over Oklahoma's guard forces.
An Austin memo Tuesday order all National Guard and Reserve service members to be vaccinated, arguing the Pentagon can enforce the mandate even for Guardsmen on state duty, according to The Hill.
Austin's memo threatened to mark noncompliants absent without cause, affecting service time toward retirement and potentially loss of pay.
Stitt called the abuse of power "unconscionable" in a statement, according to The Hill, asserting that the Biden administration is "choosing to play politics with military paychecks, especially amid the highest inflation rate in 30 years and so close to the holiday season."
"Threatening the pay of National Guard members is manifestly unlawful and unfair, as unvaccinated active-duty personnel do not have their pay withheld," Stitt's statement added. "I will continue fighting to protect Oklahoma against this alarming pattern of unconstitutional federal overreach coming from the Biden administration."
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